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    A Full Degree Below Normal: Tastes Like Chicken!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 10:38 AM [General]

    So it’s probably fairly apparent now from my use of Yiddish and my comment about attending a Jewish leadership conference that I’m Jewish.

    In Judaism, as in most religions, there are varying levels of observance/religiosity. I am a Reform Jew – the branch of Judaism that is most “liberal” in its policies. For the most part, we do not adhere to Jewish dietary laws, better known as “keeping kosher.”

    The laws of kashrut (kahsh-root) are numerous, but two fundamentals include only eating animals that have a cloven hoof and chew their cud (Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6) and not eating meat and milk together (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). If one keeps kosher, that means no pork products (pigs do not chew their cud) and no cheeseburgers, lasagna with meat sauce, etc.

    To make more food products commercially available to those who keep kosher, there are agencies that “certify” packaged goods. The certification essentially means that the product contains no non-kosher ingredients and was made under strict conditions to ensure its compliance with kashrut.

     I’d hazard a guess that for Americans, the most famous certification “stamp” is the “OU” which can be found on hundreds of thousands of products the world over.  Another extremely well-known, highly-respected mark of certification is the Kof-K (kahf-kay).

    One has to wonder though.... What the Kof-K were they thinking when they certified this product?  

    Since people who keep kosher aren’t well acquainted with pork or the bacon-cheddar flavor would they really know if the taste wasn’t accurate? I can just hear the reactions of my observant relatives now: “Hmmm. Tastes like chicken!”



    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Freedom of Speech (?)

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011, 5:30 PM [General]

    Recently, a pal of mine declared that as part of his plan to get healthy he was going to cut out all fried foods and not eat any pizza. My visceral reaction was to roll my eyes, knowing from previous experience that he probably won't stick to his plan.

    With that in mind, I cautioned him against making such extreme statements. I believe that doing so can set a person up for failure, which, in turn, leads to disappointment and backsliding.

    Even as I lovingly chided him, I had to laugh though because, in a manner of speaking, I've been there.

    Seven years ago, I participated in a Jewish leadership conference. One of the breakout sessions was about counteracting the impulse to commit gossip, known in Judaism as lashon hara (lah-shown hah-rah) and deemed to be a serious sin.

    I don't remember the finer points the speaker made, but I do remember that her message was very powerful and made a great deal of sense. When the conference was over, I left thinking, “I want to do better.”

    So, with that in mind, when I returned to the Jewish school where I worked, I told my colleagues that it was my intent, starting immediately, to only commit lashon hara 50 times a day. Fifty times a day?! To a man, my colleagues said that that seemed like an awful lot of gossip.

    Maybe so, I would reply. But, I added, consider this: Right now I probably gossip 100 times a day. If I only gossip 50 times a day, I've cut my incidences of gossiping in half!


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Happy Fourth!

    Monday, July 4, 2011, 6:59 PM [General]

    I recently heard someone say that being American has nothing to do with where you were born or what your politics are. Rather, he said, what makes us “American” is what’s in our hearts – a pride in being here and being part of the fabric of this great, great nation.

    Gary and I spent most of today in DC, taking in the sights, sounds and flavors of the holiday. In the afternoon we attended a baseball game. I’m glad to say that in accordance with the American “can-do” spirit, the home team pulled out a win in 10 innings. Hooray! And everyone was decked out in shades of red, white and blue. Case in point …


    What drove home the holiday for me, though, was what we saw on the National Mall. In the morning, we found ourselves wandering among the thousands of participants who were awaiting the start of the National Independence Day Parade. That’s where I saw these wonderful visions. It’s hard not to feel proud – and a bit amused – when you look at these “All-American” photos.



    Happy Fourth!



    1.9 (1 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: No Lyin’ Here…

    Sunday, July 3, 2011, 10:03 AM [General]

    Tomorrow is July 4th. I have fond memories of celebrating “The Fourth” as a child with my family at the beach. There was this family that always made a red, white and blue cake that looked something like this:   And there were fireworks and a parade and more…

    However, my most vivid memory of July 4th – well, prepping for the Fourth, anyway – is from six years ago. If I live to make Methuselah look like a teenager, I’ll never forget the conversation I had a few days before the holiday weekend.  

    At that time, we had a huge cedar pine in our yard, whose branch extended onto our neighbor’s property and over his swimming pool. Dutifully, in late summer, the tree would drop needles into the pool. It also made our yard somewhat dark. So, in 2005, when Joe (our neighbor) approached us and asked if he could take the tree down, we were on board. We just wanted to know what the plan was for removing it.

    No big deal, said Joe. He and his father, a tree removal expert, would do the job themselves over the July 4th weekend. It sounded a little dicey, but I managed to convince myself that all would be well. However, I told Joe, I hope you won’t need Gary (the husband) to participate in the project, because that won’t be happening.

    Gary didn’t understand. Why couldn’t he help? Men!

    I lovingly reminded him that less than a week later we were getting married and I was not going to risk him getting one scratch. Hence, there was little chance of his getting involved in a project from/during which he could potentially get seriously hurt if anything went wrong.

    Gary then inquired: “What will I be doing on July 4th?”  

    My reply: “Lying very still!” 

    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: Hot as …, Cold as …

    Saturday, July 2, 2011, 7:42 PM [General]

    It’s the weekend – moreover it’s a long weekend – and it’s pushing 90 degrees here in the nation’s capital. In my book, that’s great weather for hanging out at the pool or for staying indoors in a well-air-conditioned space.

    So, naturally, I did neither of those two things today.

    Instead, Gary (aka “the husband”), who is a bit of a weather bug, and I went to an art show on the understanding that we were going to get free barbeque. Instead, we got a speech from a politician. As if the air down here wasn’t hot enough… . 

    In Washington, DC, that happens a lot. We should’ve seen it coming….

    So we’re out there thinking: “Man, it’s hot out here….”

    I guess we just needed some perspective.

    For a lark, Gary says, “Let’s check the weather in Death Valley, CA.” Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest park in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock there every year to marvel at its geology and more.

    Hopefully they stayed home today.

    At 4 PM, the National Weather Service was reporting temperatures of 121 degrees. Whoa! Tonight, thank goodness, it’s going to go down to a chilly 93 degrees.

    Break out the sweaters….

    For fun and contrast and to cool ourselves off (we were schvitzing just thinking about being there!), we checked today’s forecast for Deadhorse, AK. The 25 or so residents of Deadhorse experienced a virtual heat-wave today. The mercury climbed to a sweltering 54 degrees.

    Not to worry, though. Tonight it will cool off again – to 35 degrees.

    Are you kidding?! Three degrees above freezing?! In July?!

    I will never complain again about 90 degrees....

    How hot is too hot for you? How cold is too cold?



    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Full Degree Below Normal: An Introduction

    Friday, July 1, 2011, 8:51 AM [General]

    If the brilliant, witty title of my blog intrigued you, thanks for stopping by. Allow me to introduce myself – I’m Daphne.

    Okay, now that you know me …. Ha ha! 

    Actually, the obvious (knowing my name) aside, that’s not altogether untrue. Now you have some insight into my nonconforming personality or what’s important to me, anyway. In the last ten years or so, I’ve experienced some remarkable shifts in my life that have caused me to take singular pleasure in the life I’ve been given, the hand I’ve been dealt. As a result, I love to joke around and good-naturedly bust people’s chops and I am ever on the lookout for the humorous in day-to-day life.

    For example this: 

    Maybe you’re thinking, “It’s a street sign.” But I know you’re furtively stealing glances at it and when you do, you can’t help, but smile. Admit it. C’mon darn it, admit it! Wink

    Okay, seriously …

    It’s not everyone who feels comfortable laughing at him/herself. As for me, there are few activities in life that I enjoy more. So, you might think that makes me a little crazy, eh? Perhaps.

    Here’s my take on me: Recently while monitoring my temperature post surgery, the thermometer read 97.6 degrees. Happily, I reported to my husband that not only did I not have a fever, but I was actually a full degree below normal. As soon as I said those words I stopped, struck….

    “Yep,” I thought, “that’s me, ‘A Full Degree Below Normal.’”


    2.3 (1 Ratings)

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